After her War a Mystery EP in 2019, Linda R. Bess has been steadily building her reputation in the midwestern underground scene fronting the alternative/witch house duo White Cauldron, along with a few singles under her solo moniker. Marking her full-length album debut, No Cover is a strangely concocted brew of electrified dark pop, driven primarily by her distinctly gritty tonal sensibilities; caustic bass and wispy layers of keyboards coalesce into vibrant and haunting soundscapes upon which her voice hovers in a lilting, even ghostlike manner befitting the witch house predilections of her main band. Songs like the opening “Sleepless” with its forceful electro beat and the blissfully minimalist techno of “I Don’t Need You” resound with an erotic and sinister energy, her vocals echoing into the ether to add to their discordant atmosphere. The same be said of “Tyrants,” her voice bearing an almost childlike monotone that seems to taunt the listener with lines like “We are the tyrants, we walk in silence, we talk in violence, we have no guidance,” while a rather groovy bass and waves of fluidic pads make for an ominous resonance. Similarly, “Fight the Power” is a straightforward piece of electropunk with its chilled synth arpeggios and shrill guitar textures adding a touch of abrasion suitable to its protesting theme, but it’s on the cover songs that No Cover attains its true power. One would never recognize “What a Fool Believes” to be a song by The Doobie Brothers as Bess invokes a bouncy bass and scratchy guitars to create a dissonant mélange upon which the original comes across like a nightmarish rendition of an ‘80s sitcom theme, her disembodied vocals almost an affront to the song’s inherent poppiness. The same can be said of Diana Ross’ “Do You Know Where You’re Going To” and especially Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows,” her voice fiery as a classic blues/jazz chanteuse upon steely guitars and a grimy bass. Following the 2020 “Trabeation” single, the closing cover of Audioslave’s “I Am the Highway” is another dedication to Bess’ late brother Brian, the distorted bass and flutelike synth tones upon a rather bluesy rhythm resulting in a mournful lament that ends things in a lovely if sad manner. Even with her White Cauldron band mate Toothpinch mixing and contributing to two tracks, one can discern a more intimate and personal vibe to No Cover that necessitates its release under Bess’ own name. The bewitching vocal treatments eschew a tuneful accessibility, but they are an effective complement to the sparse production.